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A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting Hardcover – January 2, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Sheridan joined the merchant marines after high school, eventually graduated from Harvard, and worked his way to Australia on a yacht. There, in 1999, he decided to indulge his fascination with fighting, hoping to test himself and explore what has become a mostly sublimated aspect of masculinity. After some months of training in Australia, he moved to Bangkok to train with a legendary Muay Thai (kickboxing) champion. That experience--and his first professional bout--expanded into a multiyear odyssey in which he trained with Olympic boxers, Brazilian jujitsu champions, and Ultimate Fighting combatants. The magic in his account is in the telling detail--not only about how he suffers, trains, and fights but also about his reactions to his surroundings; the way, for example, he finds himself gradually becoming indifferent to the street orphans of Brazil, desensitized by their very omnipresence. It isn't Sheridan's toughness or fearlessness that makes this an involving excursion into a shadow world; it's his ability to re-create the textures of those shadows and to make us care about his oddly quixotic journey. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"* 'After reading Sam's book you'll be sweating like you were there with him; you might even have some blood trickling out of your nose.' Pat Miletich, five time UFC Champion, trainer of 11 World Champions * 'The obsessive, brutal subcultures Sheridan explores are inherently fascinating, and his behind-the-scenes access makes for a gripping read.' Washington Post" --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139504
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've often wondered why I'm driven towards karate and boxing. Based on Sam Sheridan's fine book "A Fighter's Heart," it seems I'm testing my gameness, enjoying purity of purpose, and examining my life and motives (and at 40, I may have also fallen short developmentally somewhere along the line).

On the surface, Mr. Sheridan doesn't appear to be the fighting type. He grew up in a relatively stable family situation, attended Harvard, and likes to write. But he clearly wanted more excitement from life than cranking out human interest articles at the local bistro. Instead, he joined the Merchant Marines, got into wilderness firefighting, and along the way was bit hard by the fighting bug.

To indulge and understand his compulsion, the author traveled the world to try his mettle in various full-contact martial arts: Muay Thai in Thailand, MMA in Iowa, jiu-jitsu in Brazil, and boxing in California. In addition to testing himself in these potentially harmful venues, he also wanted to seek out other seasoned fighters and trainers for mentoring and instruction. He even checked out animal fighting and action movie stunt work to broaden his perspectives. Finally, Mr. Sheridan concludes his book with an analysis of why humans fight.

I found his detours into the more obscure aspects of fighting quite interesting. For example, he briefly explores the internal arts by studying under a Tai Chi master and engaging in Buddhist meditation at a Thai retreat center. These segues rewarded him with a greater understanding of body mechanics and a sharper mental focus. He even discovered commonalities between the various martial arts, such as the relationship between shadow boxing and kata. Mr.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this nonfiction book, Sam Sheridan ventures into the world of mixed martial arts. He is more than a journalist. From a Muay Thai camp in Thailand, to working with Pat Miletich in Iowa, he subjects himself to grueling training. He signs up for fights. He wins, he loses, he gets hurt.

"A Figher's Heart" is memorable, inspiring, and instructive. He points out - being a fighter is all about figuring our who you are, what works for you. It's interesting how that idea comes up again and again throughout the book, whether he is training in Asia or in Brazil. By studying seemingly unrelated arts - Muay Thai, wrestling, boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Chi Gun, the author discovers surprising parallels.

I found it very interesting to read about the psychological aspects of professional fighting. The author covers a wide range of topics - from intreviewing a boxer who had killed his opponent in the ring and how it affected him, to his own experience of preparing for a fight. If you haven't ever made a conscious decision to face crippling injury or even death before - this book will tell you exactly what it feels like, to step into the ring. If you have - it will make you want to buy this guy a beer. The part where he talks about an old injury - that kept haunting him, and maade him unable to continue a fight - almost made me cry.

The author doesn't stop there - he talks about dealing defeat, violence, dog fights, feeling alive, celebrity. This is the kind of book that makes you forget about your stupid day job and your cubicle, and makes you realize how good it is to be a man.
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Format: Hardcover
While Sam Sheridan's story revolves around fighting, the questions and themes he teases out apply to all athletics, and competition in general. What makes us compete? What makes us suffer? Maybe A Fighter's Heart is even more interesting to fighting fans, but as a non-fighter I can attest that it is enthralling.
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Format: Paperback
The first chapters of this book with Sheridan's training in Thailand were very good. Unfortunately, the intensity doesnt continue throughout the book. This seemed to be a consequence of the authors injuries but the need to fill space was obvious with two chapters that had nothing to do with "A Fighters Heart".

The first was an ugly chapter on dog fighting. Despite trying to draw comparisons between man and dog, it doesnt work at all. (In my own opinion, dog fighting seems more for those who dont have the courage to fight themselves.)

The second chapter with no ryhme or reason is the meandering narrative on being extras in a B movie with Miletich's crew. Thoughout it was obvious that Sheridan was searching for some way to end this book.

I would suggest that the author heal up and head back to Brazil or Thailand and get the experiences necessary to conclude this book without more references to Joyce Carol Oates. (The chapter on jiu jitsu was particularly brief since the author managed to get arm-barred by a white belt and disabled to the point of no longer being able to train?)
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very aptly named book. It is not so much a book on fighting, although there is a lot about fighting in it, but it's a deeper insight into what makes a fighter tick.

I've never understood what makes a fighter tick. Why would someone want to take life and limb into a ring with just the goal of beating someone up? Mr. Sheridan can't answer that question for everyone, but he comes closer than most. It provides a bit of background and understanding for the famous Muhammad Ali quote:

'Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.'

Well, now I understand a little better, but I still don't want to go down the road he took.
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